Hi everyone! Im Kristle, and as Andi mentioned just a little bit ago, I am brand new to SpouseBUZZ. I am totally excited to be here and if you can't tell, I am a little nervous. I am always a little nervous when it comes to introductions, particularly to those who are still military spouses. I struggle so much with being the epitome of what could happen.
I thought I would start out by telling you how this all came about, and for many of you who may be dealing with TBI/PTSD, this will probably sound very familiar. In September of 2006 my husband was deployed for what we thought would be just the standard year-long deployment. Half way through they got extended, totaling my husband’s time in Iraq to 16 and half months. The deployment was very hard. There were so many times I was sure our marriage would not survive the deployment, but we made it through, and I’m sure you all know the feeling of relief that comes over you when your Soldier is back in your arms.
Unfortunately for us, this was just the beginning. When he returned home in 2007 he was someone else. He was angry, and unreliable, he was un-trusting and anxious. He did strange things that no one could explain, like slamming on the brakes in the middle of the interstate because he “thought he saw something.” It killed me to see him this way, but the sole mention that he should get help pushed him off the deep end. Eventually things got really bad at home. I always said the first time he laid a hand on me I would be gone, and here I was forced to make that decision.
If we had not had a child, I’m not sure things would have been that way, I probably would have stayed. Seeing my husband removed from my home by Military Police that I used to work with was probably the hardest, most humiliating thing I had ever done. These were people who once referred to my husband and I as the “perfect couple,” people who sat back and watched as I struggled to single handedly take care of my son and be a Solider while my husband was gone. They helped me plan care packages, and watched as I used what little free time I had to write him a letter every day. How could this be happening to us?
I thought I was doing everything right. My husband was mandated to attend anger management and to stay in the barracks until I was ready for him to come home. From there things started to make sense. His counselor at anger management suggested he get an MRI because she felt there was more going on than just anger. The MRI led to more advanced testing, and that ultimately led to his diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury/ PTSD, and a multitude of other health problems that we were previously unaware of. This would change our lives forever.
I went through a period where I was really angry. I felt that he wasn’t telling me things, that he lied to me about being okay while he was over there, but once that wore off and I was able to see things more clearly, I made it my personal mission to learn everything I could about what was going on with my husband so that we could create our new “normal” together. It’s been a year since his medical retirement, and things are changing for the better. While he may never be the way he was before, we are learning how to compensate for his shortcomings, and I believe that this will be our key to success.
Our journey has been full of mentors, organizations that have helped us along the way, and also those who need to be mentored. For me, helping others has been my therapy. I love hearing that my story inspired someone, that something I said in my blog helped someone else through their struggles. Helping other spouses realize that they are not alone in this struggle has been the greatest gift. I look forward to sharing my knowledge, resources, and experiences with you all as we continue down this journey toward healing. I feel it is my duty to share my story because this story is not just mine, but that of thousands of Military families affected by war.